Photo: Women's Resource Center

Bridging the Digital Divide with Strong Partnerships

Posted on November 09, 2021 by Lori Gentile, Women's Resource Center

Editor's Note: The Patterson Foundation’s Digital Navigator Program trains local organizations to connect asset-limited families and individuals with opportunities to obtain digital connectivity, devices, skills, and support. Through a series of trainings, implementation meetings, and knowledge-sharing sessions with other nonprofits, consultants help participants embed the responsibilities of the digital navigator into the organization’s daily work and culture. The Women’s Resource Center is a 501(C)3 nonprofit focused on providing women of all ages and backgrounds with support, resources, and services. For almost 40 years in Sarasota and 30 years in Bradenton, the WRC has been a place for women and families to turn to when they are looking for help, guidance, or information. Learn more here.

 

When The Patterson Foundation invited the Women’s Resource Center to participate in the Digital Navigator Program, we jumped at the chance. The program supports two critical priorities for WRC, helping to close the digital divide and building partnerships to best support women and families in our community.

Our first example of a client who benefited from the Digital Navigator Program is Beaux Peterson. Beaux called WRC for help because she was starting a new job working remotely and needed a computer and internet access. Her needs were incredibly challenging because, at the time, she was homeless and living in the Salvation Army. Our digital navigator, Brent Giangregorio, investigated options using the tools provided by The Patterson Foundation. Because she needed a space to work from, Brent suggested reaching out to Goodwill Manasota, who is also part of the program, to explore how they might assist. They were able to provide Beaux with a workspace until she had stable housing. “The digital divide in our community is real,” said Giangregorio. “To see how excited our clients are to have this program available to them has been wonderful.”

The best feedback was from Beaux herself. “Your support through all of this is greatly appreciated. Your help encouraged me not to get frustrated and give up,” said Peterson, “I hope you know what a resource you are, and the work you do at WRC is greatly appreciated.”

Another excellent partnership for digital literacy was with Sarasota and Manatee County Libraries and UnidosNow, another organization participating in the Digital Navigator Program. As a result of the four agencies working together, we provided digital literacy, training, and laptops to ten Spanish-speaking clients.

And it is not just about training and technology; sometimes, it is the cost of being connected to quality broadband internet services. For example, Lynette Coney has been our client for many years through our partnership with the 2Gen program of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. Lynette and her case manager were going over her budget and saw the high expense for the internet. Her case manager is also one of our digital navigators and was able to explore different options. In the end, Lynette was able to reduce her monthly internet fees by $50.00.

The common thread with each example is the impact of working together to leverage resources for our community. The Women’s Resource Center is grateful for the opportunity to participate in the pilot program, and we are thrilled to augment our services with this powerful program.


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